Thursday, April 24, 2014

Summer Vacations with Kids

Last summer we went on a really big family vacation.  The longest (and furthest from home) yet.  We were gone for 9 days and travelled a whopping 2000km (1242 miles), not including driving in and around cities and towns when we stopped through.  Pretty much we travelled from Vancouver to Winnipeg (or New York to Miami for an American perspective) in 9 days and we had a great time!  We took along a TON of stuff for the ride for the kids.  Dollar Store Toys, Colouring Books, Leapsters and even a DVD player which I can proudly say we used once.  For one hour.  That was it.

The trick was to split up the handout of the toys.  I bough something like 10 new toys for each of them from the Dollar Store and the plan was to hand one out a day when tensions were high - to keep them busy for a little while.  I only used 6 of those items, which I thought was great!

We also implemented a ticket system.  I bought the tickets from the Dollar Store and we had a stash with us in the front.  When the kids did something to be rewarded for (on the left of the binder), they would get a ticket.  They could save or spend their tickets (see the right side of the binder).

Behaviours We Watched For . . .
Hiking without whining
Finishing a BINGO sheet
Sleeping nicely in the tent/hotel
Helping around the campsite
Doing their homework
NO Crying
Being quiet in the car
Reading a book

And They Were Rewarded With . . .
Juice Box (otherwise it was water only)
Treats (otherwise it was healthy snacks only)
$1 (to spend at a gas station)
iPad time (which was cancelled once we learnt that the car would not charge the iPad.  We had to save our battery because it had all of our maps on it and we were camping with no electricity)

Every day the kids would get their pack of papers.  I organized each day inside a page protector.

The first page was always a map and at the bottom, I listed the highlights of that day.  We saved the best adventures for the end of our trip when we knew they would be sick of camping.  That was when the zoo, waterparks, county fairs and outdoor waterslides came in.

On Zoo day, there was a passport also tucked into their page protector.  I went to the zoo's website and found out what kinds of animals were at the zoo.  I then found Google Images of some of the animals, printed, taped and wrote down names.  As we walked through the zoo, the kids had to watch and check off (or in H's case, circle) all the animals they could find. 

Each day in the packet, both kids also had "homework".  They were just pages ripped out of old activity books or printed from online.  Super simple, a few pages to keep them busy at the beginning of each trip so mommy and daddy could figure out where we were headed.

Once they finished their 'homework', they worked on their BINGO sheets together.  By this time, mommy and daddy were on a highway and we were more able to help the kids with this task.  I made 9 different BINGO cards, putting in pictures of things that I knew we would see on that stretch of the trip.  For example, if you know you will be passing by a lake/river, find a picture of that and put it in.  There were some days we did NO highway driving, only city driving so those days had urban pictures.  There were some days we stayed two nights at a campsite, so I made a nature BINGO because we did NO driving.

Then at the end of the day, to calm everyone down (whether it was in the tent, at the picnic table or in the hotel room) the kids thought about their most favourite part of the day and they drew a journal entry.  I still have these and I can't wait to scrapbook them! 

And that was how I survived a REALLY long trip with my family.  No fighting.  No yelling.  No "I'M BORED" or "ARE WE THERE YET???"  Seriously.  I didn't hear it once.  I hope I have given you at least a little inspiration for your family vacation this summer!

Safe Travels!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy Easter Everyone!

Happy Easter!

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday with your family!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Cutting Grass

Do you need something for your preschooler to do outside while you work in the yard?  Something that practices fine motor and teaches your child how to use scissors?  Then get them to cut the grass!  My son was doing this too with his small scissors and using the scissors the correct way.  He laid down on his stomach and cut the grass that was poking up through the patio blocks.  My daughter insisted on using "adult" scissors which were too big for her hands, so she had to hold the scissors with two hands.  Either way, it kept them busy for about 30 minutes while I got a bunch of spring clean up done in the yard.  Yay for fun, skill practice and peace and quiet!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spray the Letter

Check out this awesome blog for the original post of this idea!

It was hot last summer and my son was getting ready to start preschool in the fall.  His big sister has taught him so much, but just how much I never know because he is always surprising me.  I wanted to see how many uppercase letters he could recognize, so I made it into a game. 

With sidewalk chalk, I wrote all 26 uppercase letters on our fence.  I handed him a spray bottle (also great for small motor practice) and we did a little "test" together.  I would say, "Spray the 'H'" and he would find that letter and spray it.

There are many other variations that you could use with this same technique, depending on the age and skill level of your child.  Here are just a few ideas . . .
  1. Use lowercase letters
  2. Mix up the letters instead of putting them in alphabetical order
  3. Mix up the letters and get your child to spray them IN alphabetical order
  4. Draw lowercase letters on the fence and hold up the uppercase letter to see if they can match
  5. Say the sound the letter makes instead of the letter
  6. If your child is learning to spell, say the word you are practicing and they can spray the letters in the correct order (see bottom picture with my daughter)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ideas for a Summer Bucket List

We had a great summer!  It was full of fun times at home, two family reunions, trips to visit friends, a big family vacation to Montana and a couple camping trips!

Last year we made a summer bucket list but because this was a busy summer as it was, we did not have a bucket list, we just lived!

Here are a few of the places we went, ideas that you can add to your summer bucket list.

Go to the zoo

Visits spray park

Take in the local fair

Go for a hike

Go camping (and collect wood for a campfire)

Go fishing or just take a trip on a boat (we don't own a boat so I never thought we would get a chance like this, but while camping you never know who you will run into that DOES have a boat!)

Friday, April 11, 2014

Meatball Subs

10 COOKED Meatballs - homemade or store bought - your choice
2 Sub Buns
1 1/2 cups of Pizza Sauce/Spaghetti Sauce
1 cup Shredded Cheddar Cheese

  1. Cut the two sub buns open and lay all four halves onto a cookie sheet (I used our toaster oven and rack)
  2. Spread the sauce evenly over all of the buns
  3. Cut the meatballs into slices (I did three cuts per meatball to make them as flat as possible) and place the slices onto the sauce.
  4. Sprinkle the cheese on top of the buns and place in the oven (toaster oven) on 350F for 15 minutes.
Sorry, we were in a rush that night so I forgot to take a picture, and the leftovers went over so well that I didn't have time to take pictures afterwards!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Daily Routine Prtinable

A while back, I created a Home Management Binder.  I have used it often for birthdays, phone numbers and other important school information, but I felt that something was missing.  When I stopped working out of the home and opened the Home Daycare, I knew that organization was going to be key to keep my home and business life separate - yet together.  Something that I was not used to.
So I created a simple schedule for the day so that I could get things done but still be with the kids - learning and having fun!  This is the main part of my printable and it includes times to do household chores, daycare fun, naptime, working out, meals and supper prep.
After the schedule, I made a simple cleaning plan.  A major weekly job PLUS a chore for myself and both of the kids.  Their jobs may include cleaning baseboards, cleaning sinks, collecting garbage, doing laundry or other simple tasks that are age appropriate.  Check out my technology time post to see a list of chores that are age appropriate.
On the second page for the day I have two open squares to make to do lists.  I should also mention that I don't print these pages off every week as I like to recycle.  Instead, I place all of these daily routines into page protectors which treats them like white boards.  Simple to erase at the end of the week.
Under the To Do squares, I have three empty squares for a quick menu.  Breakfast, Lunch and Supper.
And last but not least, I have lines to makes notes for myself about our evening plans.  Maybe we have a dinner date or soccer game or heaven forbid . . . a DATE NIGHT!  I mark it down here so that I don't forget what I have to do in the evenings after a hectic day at work!

If you would like the printables, go to this link and print them out for yourself.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Fun with Magnets

Super Science Fun!

There are two (learning) steps to this activity.  The first step is the fine motor work of cutting up the pipe cleaners.  This can be a hard and frustrating job for little ones because of the wire in the pipe cleaners, so it's better for older ones with more hand strength to do for the younger ones.

Next, place all of the cut up pipe cleaner pieces into a glass jar.  Give each child a magnet and let them explore with moving the magnet on the outside of the glass and then inside the glass.  Talk about WHY the pipe cleaner pieces are moving and then move the activity to all over the house by exploring what else is magnetic.  DON'T ALLOW MAGNETS NEAR ELECTRONICS OF ANY KIND.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Ham and Cheese Quiche

I'm sure this is also true in your home, but I often find that when I make something new and call it by it's real name (a good example being quiche), my kids are really quick to say "I don't LIKE that!".  But if I get creative and call it something that they are familiar with (for example, Egg Pie), they are SO excited and gobble it ALL up.   This was a HUGE hit!


1 cup diced ham (precooked) - great to use up leftovers!
1 cup cheese (split in half)
4 eggs
1/2 cup finely chopped broccoli and/or cauliflower
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 9 inch pan.
  2. Sprinkle in half of the cheese, ham and veggies all over the bottom of the pan.
  3. In another bowl, combine the eggs and milk and whisk well.  Then add the flour and whisk REALLY well.  Once this mixture is smooth, pour it into the pan.
  4. Sprinkle the other half of the cheese on top and bake for 35 minutes or until set.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Chalkboard Play

I love great deals, don't you??  I always watch Groupon and Living Social to get some great deals.  This chalkboard was one of them.  This was a great deal, you can find it full price now here on the Trend Matters website.  It's a decal, so when you are done with it, it SHOULD just peel right off.  I doubt that you would be able to use it again though.  I plan on keeping it on the wall for a long time, because I just don't know what it is going to do to the wall.  Worse case scenario, I have to repaint and possibly repair the wall.  Best case, it peels off and doesn't leave a mark!

I put it up on the weekend so that my kids could use it before daycare started back up on Monday, and they used it quite well!  Kept them busy playing school for about an hour.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Songs and Rhymes About Numbers

Here are a few of my favourite songs to teach little ones their numbers.

Five Little Monkeys
This song is best with actions. It helps to get the wiggles out. 
Five little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Four little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Three little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

Two little monkeys jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

One little monkey jumping on the bed
One fell off and bumped his head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
No more monkeys jumping on the bed

No little monkeys jumping on the bed
None fell off and bumped their head
Mama called the doctor and the doctor said
Put those monkeys straight to bed

Five Green and Speckled Frogs
Make some felt frogs and a log and you have a great felt story to share!
Five green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating some most delicious bugs
Yum yum
One jumped in to the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are four green speckled frogs
Glub glub

Four green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating some most delicious bugs
Yum yum
One jumped in to the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are three green speckled frogs
Glub glub

Three green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating some most delicious bugs
Yum yum
One jumped in to the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are two green speckled frogs
Glub glub

Two green and speckled frogs
Sat on a speckled log
Eating some most delicious bugs
Yum yum
One jumped in to the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there is one green speckled frog
Glub glub

One green and speckled frog
Sat on a speckled log
Eating some most delicious bugs
Yum yum
He jumped in to the pool
Where it was nice and cool
Now there are no green speckled frogs
Glub glub

Five Little Peas
Another fantastic song to get the children moving
Five little peas in a pea pod pressed (five children squat down in a row)
One grew two grew and so did all the rest (children stretch their arms up)
They grew and they grew and they did not stop
Until at last the pod did pop
One two three four five (children jump up one at a time)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Learning Fun

This week our focus was


We used our chalkboard this week!  It's still a huge hit around here!  I printed letters snd numbers (shapes for the little boys) and they used paintbrushes dipped in water to paint over the chalk lines.  Great fine motor practice that's a LOT of fun!

A playlist if a couple videos we used for Spring!
Seasons Song and Five Little Ducks